So far, humanity hasn’t done very well in addressing the ongoing climate catastrophe. Veteran science educator L. S. Gardiner believes we can learn to do better by understanding how we’ve dealt with other types of environmental risks in the past and why we are dragging our feet in addressing this most urgent emergency. Weaving scientific facts and research together with humor and emotion, Gardiner explores human responses to erosion, earthquakes, fires, invasive species, marine degradation, volcanic eruptions, and floods in order to illuminate why we find it so challenging to deal with climate change. Insight emerges from unexpected places—a mermaid exhibit, a Magic 8 Ball, and midcentury cartoons about a future that never came to be.
Instead of focusing on the economics and geopolitics of the debate over climate change, this book brings large-scale disaster to a human scale, emphasizing the role of the individual. We humans do have the capacity to deal with disasters. When we face threatening changes, we don’t just stand there pretending it isn’t so, we do something. But because we’re human, our responses aren’t always the right ones the first time—yet we can learn to do better. This book is essential reading for all who want to know how we can draw on our strengths to survive the climate catastrophe and forge a new relationship with nature.
“Given the advancing state of climatic disruption, humans are going to spend a lot of the foreseeable future dealing with disaster. This fascinating volume provides some memorable examples of how we’ve done so in the past, and as such helps concentrate our thinking on the necessary task of limiting the damage that’s coming our way.”—Bill McKibben, author, Radio Free Vermont
“Gardiner’s lively and fresh observations detail the actions necessary to head off the impending disaster of climate change, showing why forward movement has been so sluggish… Fresh insights about scientific literacy and generational shifts from techno-optimism to dystopian views of the future also cover new ground. Gardiner is not an alarmist. While relaying concern that international, governmental, and corporate actors need to do more—and quickly!—to prevent catastrophic climate change, she ends the book on an optimistic note, with concrete ideas for meaningful individual action.”—Foreword Reviews
Winner of the Indie Book Awards, science/nature/environment
Finalist for a Colorado Book Award, nonfiction